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Series of Attacks on North Iraq Police kill 27

A spate of bomb attacks against police in the disputed northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk on Thursday killed at least 27 people, the worst violence to hit Iraq in nearly two months.

A further 89 people were wounded in the three attacks; with just months to go before U.S. forces must withdraw from the country.

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Bin Laden in Posthumous Message: Winds of Change Will Blow Over Muslim World

Al-Qaida has released a message from slain leader Osama bin Laden praising the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia and urging Muslims to take advantage of a "rare historic opportunity" to rise up, U.S. monitors said.

The message posted on jihadist forums on Wednesday by al-Qaida's media arm As-Sahab addresses Muslims on the revolutions sweeping the Middle East and North Africa, SITE Intelligence said.

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Ban Urges Israeli 'Incentives' for New Peace Talks

U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday urged Israel to be more flexible in dealings with the Palestinian leadership and offer "incentives" to get deadlocked talks started again.

Ban told Agence France Presse in an interview that he was also pressing Palestinians to get Hamas to recognize Israel and renounce violence. But the new Hamas-Fatah unity must be given a chance, Ban said.

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U.S. Sanctions Assad, Tells Him to Lead Transition or Leave

U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday sanctioned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and six top aides over their crackdown on popular protests, telling Assad to launch a transition to democracy or step down.

Obama signed the executive order to "increase pressure on the government of Syria to end its use of violence and begin transitioning to a democratic system that ensures the universal rights of the Syrian people," the document said.

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Iran FM from Kuwait: We’ve Agreed to Return Ambassadors

Kuwait and Iran have agreed to return their ambassadors, Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Wednesday, signaling an end to tensions that have soured ties between both countries.

"It has been decided for the ambassadors of both countries to quickly return to their missions," Salehi told reporters in Kuwait.

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Medvedev Won't Back Use of Force against Syria, Assad Confident Unrest Over

Syria's embattled President Bashar al-Assad has said he believes the unrest roiling his country is coming to an end while acknowledging that security services had made mistakes in trying to tame a two-month revolt.

The international community, meanwhile, appeared divided Wednesday on how to tackle the Syrian crisis. Switzerland joined an EU-led sanctions regime, while Russia warned it would oppose any proposed U.N. resolution to intervene with force in Syria.

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3 Dead in Tunisia Gunfight with Suspected Libyan Qaida Members

Suspected Libyan al-Qaida militants exchanged fire with security forces in Tunisia Wednesday, leaving two alleged militants and a Tunisian colonel dead, security officials and the government said.

The suspected militants were wearing belts of explosives and were "terrorists, strongly suspected of belonging to the al-Qaida network," a Tunisian security official said.

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Yemen Rivals to Sign Deal to End Crisis

Yemen's political rivals have agreed to sign a Gulf-brokered plan Wednesday to end the country's bloody political crisis, the president's aid told al-Arabiya television, but the opposition was cautious.

When asked if the agreement would be signed Wednesday, President Ali Abdullah Saleh's aide Ahmed al-Sufi said: "Yes, it will be today." There has been "positive" and "important progress."

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Swiss Announce Sanctions on Syria

Switzerland announced new sanctions against Syria on Wednesday, saying that it was following the European Union's lead in imposing an embargo on arms and on equipment used for internal repression.

"The new edict on measures against Syria includes an embargo on military assets and equipment that could be used for internal repression," said the Swiss Economy Ministry in a statement.

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Kuwaiti Shiite and Sunni MPs in Parliamentary Fistfight

Shiite and Sunni Islamist Kuwaiti MPs fought with fists in parliament Wednesday during a heated debate over Kuwaiti inmates in the U.S. Guantanamo Bay detention center.

The parliament was holding a debate over four Kuwaiti detainees in the U.S. prison camp in Cuba when Shiite MP Hussein al-Kallaf provoked some Sunni fellow MPs by dismissing the prisoners as "al-Qaida" militants.

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